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Mac Optimization Guide for macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Mac Optimization Guide macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Before you dive into audio production on your Mac, we recommend to first customize the system preferences. The following optimizations from Avid’s guide are recommended for use with all DAWs on your Mac running macOS 10.13 High Sierra. The full guide can be found here.

If you are a Pro Tools users can get the most from their DAW by reading the Pro Tools Optimization section.

In order to do many of the optimizations below, you will need to access system preferences. To do so, click the Apple logo at the top left corner of your screen and choose System Preferences.


Optimize Energy Saver

This optimization will free up system resources as well as prevent the computer from going to sleep or standby mode which can cause audio dropouts with Pro Tools software and hardware.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click ‘Energy Saver’.
  3. Do one of the following (available option depends on your computer model).
    • If present, set the ‘Computer sleep’ slider to ‘Never’
    • Otherwise, check the box that says ‘Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off.’
  4. Un-check the box for ‘Put hard disks to sleep when possible’.
  5. Un-check the box for ‘Enable Power Nap’


Turn off Wi-Fi

If your computer is equipped with Bluetooth wireless and/or Wi-Fi, these may need to be disabled for Pro Tools to work correctly.  In addition to freeing up system resources, disabling these can help resolve DAE errors -6085, -6086 and -6101.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click ‘Network’.
  3. On the left hand sidebar, click on Wi-Fi.
  4. Click on the button that says Turn Wi-Fi Off.


Disable FireWire & Thunderbolt Networking

This optimization can help free up bandwidth in the firewire bus and allow Digidesign FireWire devices to work more efficiently.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click ‘Network’.
  3. On the left hand sidebar, click on FireWire/Built-In FireWire/Thunderbolt FireWire/Thunderbolt Bridge (may not be present depending on computer model).
  4. Click on the drop-down menu for ‘Configure IPv4’ and choose Off.
  5. Click Apply and restart your computer.


Disable FileVault protection

This optimization will allow your hard drive to work more efficiently with Pro Tools and can prevent DAE Error -9035 from occurring.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click ‘Security & Privacy’.
  3. Click on the ‘FileVault’ tab.
  4. In this window find where it states: ‘FileVault protection is (on/off) for the hard disk…’.
  5. If FileVault is on, click the button to ‘Turn Off FileVault’.


Automatic Updates

Some updates to your Mac software can cause conflicts with Pro Tools.  Therefore, it is suggested to disable the automatic update functionality within the operating system. If there is an update that you need, you can manually update your Mac software my clicking on the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your screen and choosing Software Update.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click ‘App Store’.
  3. Make sure the box labeled ‘Automatically check for updates’ is unchecked.


Enable Spotlight Indexing

Pro Tools 12 and higher relies on Spotlight indexing for Workspace database search operations. It is therefore suggested that Spotlight be allowed access to all mounted drives. This will be the default on El Capitan, but to be sure nothing is hidden from Spotlight please follow these steps:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click ‘Spotlight’.
  3. Click on the Privacy tab.
  4. Be sure no drives appear in this list. It should be empty. If any drives do appear, highlight each one and click the minus (-) button below the list to remove them.

Note: When Spotlight is enabled, long record passes (over 50 minutes) may stop recording after 50+ minutes. Consider disabling Spotlight for long recording sessions and then re-enable it when you are done recording.


Disable Sudden Motion Sensor (For laptops only, and not available on all models)

If you’re recording in a loud environment, this optimization will prevent the Sudden Motion Sensor from kicking in and throwing a -9073 error in Pro Tools.

  1. Double-click on the Macintosh HD icon on your desktop.  (This would be your system drive if you have renamed it to something else.)
  2. Go to the Applications folder.
  3. Go to the Utilities folder.
  4. Double-click on Terminal.
  5. Type sudo pmset -a sms 0 and press Return. (Typing in ‘0’ disables it.)
  6. Enter your administrator when prompted.
  7. Type sudo pmset -g to verify that this has been applied.

To re-enable Sudden Motion Sensor:

  1. Go back to Terminal following the above steps.
  2. Type sudo pmset -a sms 1 and press Return. (Typing in ‘1’ re-enables it.)
  3. Enter your administrator when prompted.
  4. Type sudo pmset -g to verify that this has been applied.


Disable Automatic Graphics Switching (For laptops only, and not available on all models)

This will prevent the operating system from switching between graphics processors to save energy, which can cause errors during playback or recording.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Go to Energy Saver.
  3. Un-check automatic graphics switching.


Remove Login Items.

Login Items are applications that will automatically start when logging into a user account. Remove unnecessary login items to reduce sources of potential conflicts with Pro Tools.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click ‘Users & Groups’.
  3. Select the account you’re logged into on the left hand side.
  4. Click Login Items.
  5. Go through the list and select each item, one at a time, and click the ‘-‘ below the list to remove the item (as long as you do not absolutely need it to start at login).


Remove Startup Items.

Startup Items are similar to Login Items, but will start when first booting the computer, regardless of the user account being utilized. To remove unnecessary Startup Items

  1. Open your Macintosh HD.
  2. Go to the Library folder.
  3. Go to the StartupItems folder.
  4. Delete any unnecessary item.

Note: Although the OS does not rely on anything in this folder to operate, please double-check the functionality of any unknown Startup Items before deleting them to ensure that you’re not losing any essential functionality.


Pro Tools Optimizations

The follow optimizations are used to keep Pro Tools operating at its best. If you Pro Tools is not working correctly on your Mac, perform the following tasks:

Update iLok Drivers

This can help resolve problems launching Pro Tools and some plug-in authorization issues.

  1. Visit the iLok website.
  2. Download and install the iLok License Manager.


Not Hearing Input or Output

If you are unable to get input into or hear output from Pro Tools the following troubleshooting may fix the problem.

Select the correct playback engine:

  1. Click the Setup menu.
  2. Click Playback Engine.
  3. Make sure your audio interface is selected as the Playback Engine.

Default I/O Setup:

  1. Open a Pro Tools session.
  2. Click on the Setup menu.
  3. Click on ‘I/O’.
  4. By default, you’ll be on the Output tab. Click on the Default button towards the bottom left corner.
  5. Click on the Input tab and then the Default button again.
  6. Click OK to save these changes.
    • The input and output paths for your audio interface should now be set to the default settings.
  7. Double-check your input and output settings in the Mix window of Pro Tools to make sure that they’re now set correctly and test your input/output again.

Create New Session With Stereo Mix:

  1. Launch Pro Tools.
  2. From the Quick Start menu, choose ‘Create Blank Session’.
  3. Click on the ‘>>’ button next to ‘Session Parameters’.
  4. Under ‘I/O Settings’ choose the ‘Stereo Mix’ option.
  5. Click OK.
  6. The session will now be created with the default input/output settings for your audio interface. Do a test recording or import some audio and see if your issue persists.

If you want, you can rename the I/O paths to how you had them set before as long as everything is working OK. In the I/O Setup, just double-click the name of the path that you want to rename, type in the new path name, and then hit Enter.


Deleting Pro Tools Preference, Workspace, and WaveCache files

These are important steps in order to resolve various issues, such as assertion errors, graphic or display problems, and other intermittent issues not specifically hardware or compatibility related. Be sure to quit Pro Tools before deleting these files, and restart your computer afterwards. The files will be recreated next time Pro Tools is launched.

Pro Tools Preferences
This procedure will reset Pro Tools preferences to a default state. Try this to correct odd or erratic behavior in the application:

  1. Go to folder ~/Library/Preferences/Avid/Pro Tools
  2. From the Finder, click on the Go menu in the menu bar.
  3. Select Go to Folder.
  4. Type in the following: ~/Library/Preferences/Avid/Pro Tools and click Go.
  5. Delete all files in this folder, including:
    • AvidListFile.txt
    • DSIPrefs
    • InstalledAAXPlugins
    • Last Used.pio
    • Pro Tools Prefs
    • updater.properties


Pro Tools Workspace database files

Try deleting these if you experience file-based issues, such as problems searching for audio files in the Workspace. 

  1. Go to folder /Users/Shared/Pro Tools
  2. From the Finder, click on the Go menu in the menu bar.
  3. Select Go to Folder.
  4. Type in the following: /Users/Shared/Pro Tools and click Go.
  5. Delete the Pro Tools folder, which contains the following two files:
    • Workspace.wksp
    • WaveCache.wfm

Note: Deleting the workspace file will also delete any user-created catalogs. 

Check Plug-In Compatibility

Make sure that all Plug-Ins are compatible with the version of Pro Tools that is installed on your system. Check with 3rd party programmers for their most up-to-date versions.

To find the version of an installed plug-in:

  1. Go to folder /Library/Application Support/Avid/Audio/Plug-Ins
  2. From the Finder, click on the Go menu in the menu bar.
  3. Select Go to Folder.
  4. Type in the following: /Library/Application Support/Avid/Audio/Plug-Ins and click Go.
  5. Click once on the plug-in you want to check the version of.
  6. Go to the File menu and choose Get Info
  7. In the General section, check the version number.

Note: Only 64-bit AAX plug-ins will work in Pro Tools 12 or later. Check with the plug-in manufacturer to see if they have 64-bit AAX version available. 


Disable App Nap

App Nap can negatively affect EuControl by causing response time delays when changing parameters on a control surface. This is because the OS appears to see this app as ‘idle’ since it is hidden from view. If you are using a EuCon surface such as an Aritst Mix or S6, disabling App Nap is recommended:

  1. Go to your Applications folder.
  2. Go to the Euphonix folder.
  3. Right-click or control+click the EuControl application and choose Get Info.
  4. In the EuControl Info window, under General, you will see an option to prevent App Nap.

Note: App Nap is permanently disabled on Pro Tools version 12.8 and higher, so you won’t see the option to prevent App Nap.


Uninstall and Reinstall Pro Tools

Uninstalling and reinstalling Pro Tools may help resolve issues with corrupt or faulty installations. To uninstall Pro Tools 12 or later, follow the instructions in these articles:

How to manually uninstall Pro Tools 11 (or higher)

How to manually uninstall Pro Tools 10 and Pro Tools Express on Mac OS X Mavericks 10.9.x

Note: Avid does not support using Pro Tools 12.8.2 or earlier with Mac OS X 10.13. Additionally, the uninstaller for Pro Tools 10.3.10 and earlier will not work on Mac OS X 10.13 (High Sierra). If you have installed Pro Tools 10.3.x, you may follow the link above for instructions on how to manually uninstall the software. 


New User Account

This troubleshoot can help with issues launching Pro Tools.  Issues inside and outside of Pro Tools can be caused by conflicting preferences from other applications.  A new user account will contain no user application preferences at first, providing somewhat of a fresh start.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click ‘Users & Groups’.
  3. Click the Lock to authenticate and enter your password.
  4. Click the ‘+’ under the list of users.
  5. Set the ‘New Account’ type to ‘Administrator’.
  6. Give this new user any name and password that you want.
  7. Click ‘Create Account’.
  8. Go to the Apple menu and choose ‘Log Out (Username)’.
  9. Wait for the login screen and then login in as the new user.
  10. Launch Pro Tools.



Helpful Links

macOS 10.14 Mojave Compatibility

How to Take a Screenshot on a Mac

Mac & PC Optimization Guides

Resolving Audio Interface Issues on Mac

iLok License Manager Tutorial

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